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In the UK, we have one of the most advanced education, health and social care systems in the world. It is no secret however that many NHS bodies and Local Authorities are struggling to meet the ever-increasing demand for community care services.
Recent budget cuts to public services mean it is becoming increasingly difficult for some of the most vulnerable members of our society to access the care, support and protections they need without the assistance of a community care specialist.
What is community care?
Put simply, community care is a term used to describe the services provided by local authorities and NHS bodies to meet the education, health and social care needs of children and adults living with an illness, injury or disability, or the needs of adults in later life.
What is community care law?
The term community care law describes the legal framework that governs the provision of education, health and social care services. It also encompasses how to deal with issues that frequently arise in the context of considering how to meet an individual’s care needs, such as whether a person has the mental capacity required to make decisions about where they should live and receive care or to manage their property and finances.
How can our community care solicitors assist?
Our community care solicitors provide both individuals and professionals with expert community care legal advice and assistance in relation to a wide range of education, health, social care and mental capacity law matters.
Examples of the types of issues we can assist with include:
- The availability of Special Educational Needs & Disability (SEND) provision.
- Reviewing and amending draft Education Health and Social Care Plans (EHCPs) to ensure an EHCP is fit for purpose.
- Challenging decisions such as a refusal to issue an EHCP or to amend an EHCP. Sometimes this may require an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal.
- Questioning failures to implement SEND provision through the appropriate complaints procedure or Judicial Review proceedings.
- Brokering a safe hospital discharge to ensure interim care packages are provided pending completion of long-term needs assessments.
- Advising on eligibility for NHS Continuing Healthcare (for Adults) or Continuing Care (for Children and Young Persons) and providing representation throughout assessment processes.
- Representation to challenge NHS funding decisions.
- Brokering directly commissioned care packages or personal health budgets once eligibility for NHS funded care has been agreed.
- Advising on how to challenge refusals to fund medical treatment.
- Advising on the availability of services to help meet the social care needs of children, young persons and adults.
- Reviewing refusals by local authorities to provide care and support to determine if and how decisions can be challenged.
- Advising on how to fund residential care for adults in later life or to fund the needs of young person’s transitioning to adulthood, such as moving into supported living or a shared lives scheme.
- Providing support to self-funders to obtain help from a local authority to obtain, implement and negotiate a care package.
- Reviewing whether a personal budget is sufficient to meet need and challenging inadequate personal budgets.
- Support to secure funded adaptations to ensure a property is safe and suitable to meet needs.
- Advising on how to challenge flawed or disputed capacity assessments.
- Providing representation at best interests meetings, and in cases involving deprivation of liberty safeguards or serious medical treatment disputes.
- When disputes cannot be resolved, providing representation in relation to health & welfare disputes in the Court of Protection.
- Advising on lasting powers of attorney, deputyships, advance decisions and future planning.
Our community care law solicitors can also advise on cuts cases or policy challenges. Examples include:
- A failure to provide sufficient funding to schools within a local authority’s area to deliver SEND provision.
- The wrongful use of panels to overturn eligibility recommendations for care and support.
- Use of policies to cap permitted “care costs” which restrict the setting of care.
- Restrictions on access to needs assessments and services, such as the criteria to access to an autism diagnostic assessment.
- Decisions to close health or social care facilities that adversely affect a community. For example, the closure of a village GP surgery or day-centre.
How can a community care case be funded?
There are a variety of funding options for community care cases. These include:
- A retainer on a time-spent or hourly rate basis. This means we provide an estimate of the likely cost of dealing with an issue and you pay for the time-spent on the case, charged at the hourly rate of the responsible lawyer(s).
- A retainer on a time-spent or hourly rate basis with deferred payment terms. In the case of a client who has a personal injury or clinical negligence claim, an agreement to recover the costs incurred on a time-spent basis through the compensation claim may be available.
- A retainer on a fixed fee basis. This means our community care solicitors agree a fixed fee at the outset to address your instructions.
- No win, no fee agreements are available for some cases. In a case where it is appropriate to consider issuing Judicial Review proceedings, we may require you to take out a policy of insurance to protect you from the risk of adverse costs liability.
- Contingency fee agreements. This means we agree to deduct our basic charges and VAT as a % of any monies recovered in the event of a successful outcome. You remain liable for the cost of any disbursements throughout the claim.
- Legal expenses insurance. Often this is included in home insurance policies and it may be used to pay for legal costs.
Our community care solicitors will provide clear advice on the potential funding options available as part of the initial, free no obligation consultation.
How does funding work if I am a deputy or attorney?
It is permissible in your role as someone’s attorney or deputy to pay for specialist community care legal advice and assistance out of that person’s funds because you have a duty to act in their best interests. It is clearly in their best interests to ensure that appropriate health and social care provision is investigated and secured. This is particularly important if they may be eligible for non-means tested NHS provision, which helps to maximise their assets and income.
Why should I choose Lester Aldridge for my community care case?
- Proven track record of successful outcomes for community care clients.
- Highly responsive, accessible and personalised client service.
- We offer a range of funding options that are tailored towards the circumstances of the case.
- Our holistic approach to identifying all of a client’s needs means that we deliver advice and assistance which is tailored towards maximising the use of statutory entitlements to ensure needs are met.
- Access to a carefully selected pool of expert barristers, independent social workers, capacity assessors, and clinicians to help support resolving community care issues.
- Supported by specialist injury lawyers who can take forward investigating a personal injury or medical negligence claim when a disability, illness or injury arises from an accident or failure.